x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Theyab Awana's wasted opportunity

The Baniyas midfielder missed the much-needed experience of taking a penalty in a match setting, which would have been invaluable.

A video of Theyab Awana's back-heeled penalty has been racking up YouTube hits and has made him a mini web celebrity. But beyond that, the Baniyas midfielder's showboating was utterly pointless. It was disrespectful to opponents Lebanon.

Players should never be discouraged from expressing themselves. The likes of Robinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are the players fans pay to see. They can do something special your average player cannot.

But their skills invariably come with an end product. Ronaldo may do seven step overs to get past his full-back, but he will top it off with a shot on goal or a cross.

Being able to score a penalty with your heel, while innovative, is a skill that will never be relevant in a competitive setting. Picture the scene: the UAE face a penalty shoot-out for a spot at the London Olympics. Awana steps up to take the vital kick. Would he take it with his heel? Of course not. The stakes would be too high. So why do it when the pressure is off?

This match was preparation for the serious business of World Cup qualifying, yet Awana's spot-kick was anything but serious.

You can practise penalties in training, but the experience of taking one in a match setting is invaluable. Awana should have taken it.

Also, Lebanon are ranked 177th in the world and the UAE were leading 5-2.

In American Football, when a team has such a big lead, a coach will take his best players off so as not to rub the opponents' faces in it.

Maybe Awana should have considered this and taken a rather less conspicuous spot kick.

sports@thenational.ae